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Will Ezekiel Elliott Be The Best Fantasy Running Back?

With the suspension to Le'Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott could very well end up as the No. 1 running back in fantasy football.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Training camps will be getting underway shortly and that means the 2016 NFL season is officially just around the corner. To enhance an NFL fan's experience, fantasy football was created to give fans a platform to be a general manager of their own team and how the team's success is predicated by how each player performs. In recent years with the uprising of daily fantasy games, fantasy football has only gotten more popular.

The top-five fantasy running backs for 2016 usually include names like Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Todd Gurley. But with the suspension to Bell, one player that could emerge into that upper echelon of fantasy running backs is none other than Ezekiel Elliott. It's hard to believe that any rookie player could finish as one of the best fantasy running backs, but the Dallas Cowboys could have that player in Elliott.

In 2015, Gurley was able to dominate even though he missed three games. The Georgia rookie finished the season with 229 carries for 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns. Incredible right? But the even more incredible thing is that he performed up to this ability despite playing with Case Keenum and Nick Foles at quarterback and in an offense that doesn't have elite talent on the offensive line or reliable weapons on the outside.

Gurley's numbers were a surprise, especially since he came back without missing a beat from a serious knee injury. But looking at Elliott's situation, it's not hard to see why some people could take him in the first seven picks of the draft. Not only does Elliott have such a good quarterback playing next to him in Tony Romo, but he will be running in an offense that has the best offensive line in football and elite players like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Because Elliott really isn't bad at any certain thing, he's might never really come off the field except for occasional rests. Dallas wanted to use more of a zone-blocking scheme for the upcoming season and a player like Elliott will allow them to do that. He not only ran in a pro system at Ohio State, but he has all of the prerequisite skills that transfer well to the scheme.

He has excellent vision, a good sense of acceleration, and his footwork is exceptional. Elliott has the talent to be a success both inside and outside of the tackles. On top of that, Elliott has pass-catching skills out of the backfield that will allow for the Cowboys to make passing plays predicated on getting him in space out of the backfield. If you play fantasy in a points per reception league, this could be invaluable.

Recently, Dallas has been at its best when they put a huge emphasis on the ground game. In 2014, when the Cowboys decided to become more of a team that relied upon its running game rather than its passing game, DeMarco Murray ran the football for 392 times. That's an average of 24.5 carries across 16 games. What's even more incredible is that the Cowboys managed to do this with a back that had a long injury history.

While Elliott just turned 21 years and he has no major injuries to date, knock on wood, there's a high likelihood that he won't run the football that much. Given that Elliott is a first-round pick, the Cowboys hope to have him for at least five seasons. Giving him over 400 touches, counting passing plays and rushing attempts, would not be the ideal way to have him last awhile. Dallas has many running backs on their roster that can come in and play as a good relief back to Elliott.

The Cowboys' running back corps may scare away some fantasy owners, as guys like Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris could vulture some yards and touchdowns, but Elliott is the clear back to get in Dallas. His ability paired with the Cowboys' offensive skill is truly a match made in heaven.

Fantasy football is extremely tricky, but because Elliott may have the most upside to gain and the most potential, he could end up being the most desirable back in all formats. Peterson is aging, Charles is coming off a serious knee injury, Johnson plays in an offense that has a lot of mouths to feed, and Elliott is entering the league at the perfect time with an offense that is perfect for him. Taking a rookie in the first round in fantasy may scare some people away, but Elliott's prospects are honestly just too good to pass up on.

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